Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Hi Family and Friends!
We got to the mission home and it is in the most gorgeous part of Paris. It is in this beautiful French neighborhood. We got there and Pres and Sister Poznanski are the sweetest French couple ever. Pres. Poznanski interviewed us first thing. He told me to the effect of, "you know, there's a lot of people who will probably not be very nice to you but you are here to find the elect. There are some who are ready, don't be discouraged, just keep working." I also got a really nice email from Marie Sylvie and dad she is the sweetest woman ever. Actually, she left a message on our cell phone today saying she wants to fix a rendez-vous to see us in Caen. (oh that's my area!)
Anyways, it's funny because I feel like Marie Sylvie is a prominent figure in the church in France. At the mission home I was talking to Soeur Poznanski about Marie Sylvie for some reason and Soeur Poznanski said, "oh! Pres. Poznanski just told her conversion story in zone conference last time! You're dad is that missionary??" and then I talked to some other elders and somehow Marie Sylvie came up and they were like, "your dad was that missionary??" and then my first dinner appointment was at the Destribras, a French family in the ward and she is good friends with Marie Sylvie. Anyways. Cool.
So the first night the APs (dad did you serve with an Elder Hall by the way? one of the APs dad's served in Paris and is your same age.) They took us to Consecration Hill. It overlooks all of Paris and it's beautiful because it's at night when the city is all lit up and there is just one solid "rod" of light (all the traffic I think) going through all of Paris as far back as you can see. They related the scene to Lehi's tree of life dream. Then they talked to us about the difference between being honorable missionaries and consecrated missionaries. They invited us to consecrate the next 1.5 years to the Lord there. It was really cool.
Next day we went to the Paris ward house to meet our trainers and find out our areas. I saw Bobby Elder Cannon! Mom, you'll have to tell Chris Cannon that every missionary I talk to who knows Bobby can't stop talking about what a hard worker he is. I talked to one missionary who was companions with Elder Cannon and he said, "yeah, I thought I was working hard before and then I became companions with Elder Cannon. He's the hardest working missionary in the mission." Apparently he's a "contacting machine." haha anyways, I feel so blessed because: A. I got an awesome trainer. B. I got assigned to one of the best areas of the mission with a really strong ward and where a lot of miracles have been happening. C. We have the nicest apartment ever. Way nicer than anything I lived in in Provo for sure! :)
My trainer is AWESOME. We get along really, really well. The Assistants to Pres. told Soeur Johnson and I that our trainers were going to be awesome the first night we got to the mission home and that they are some of the best in the mission. They said, "one is an absolute workhorse and the other one is the nicest sister I have ever met." I think I got the nicest one they have ever met. Her name is Soeur Cope and she has been out for 14 months. She's from Provo. If I said she reminded me of someone I know I would say she reminds me a lot of Maggie STrike. She's really, really nice and the thing I love the most about her is that she is always, always so positive and just makes things fun.
Well, I feel weird because I thought the first few days I would just come back to my apartment and cry and hate it and wonder what I’m doing here and feel so discouraged and like I can't do anything... and it hasn't been like that at all. I love it. I really do. I feel like Heavenly Father is helping make it as easy of a transition as possible for me... thank you for all of your prayers! I honestly feel like I can feel them in my life right now.
I have to tell you about a miracle that happened on Saturday. Soeur Cope took me out to go porting for the first time (door to door). Before we left we went to the store and bought those prinzen cookies that were my favorite in Germany as "celebration" cookies or as "pity party" cookies. As we were walking to catch the bus we were talking about how in the missionary miracle stories you hear when they're knocking doors is always the last door they knock in is the one who will let them inside. And that it's always the greenie who is the one to say, "just one more door, come on we can find someone." and we were wondering why it always has to be the last door that they knock on that is the magic door or whatever.
So we start walking down the street. A cute family passes us by. They pass and then I say, "that's a cute family. Should we talk to them?" So, we end up chasing them down. Talked to them, I thought they were going to let us come over, then they didn't. But come to find out that was a practice contact. :)
Soeur Cope wanted to go to a neighborhood that was actually kind of far away from our apartment. So we took the tram, took the bus out to the area. As we were on the bus, Soeur Cope looks out the window and says, "dang it. What was I thinking! They all have gates so we can't get to the front door!" So she pushes the button on the bus to get off immediately. So we get off the bus and are walking to catch a bus to a different area. I looked over to my right and the first house I see happens to have no gate blocking us from the door so I suggested we try knocking that door. So we went up to the front door. It was dark at this point. We knocked the door and a woman looks through the door window and sees that we're strangers, smiles, and opens the door. Soeur Cope gives a whole little spill about who we are and what we're doing and asks if we can come back to share a Christmas message with her family. And she said yes! So we set up a rendez-vous and are going back on Wednesday! Her name is Patricia and she was normal and nice and has a cute family (we just met one of her daughters who is 11 briefly.)
She closes the door and we walk out of the driveway and Soeur Cope starts freaking out. She said that is one of the best things that has happened to her in her entire mission (she has been out 14 months!) She said she has always just taught weird people and has been praying she can find a family to teach. Anyways, it was funny because it's the first and only door so far I have ported and she said we can teach her! So we started studying for the lesson we're going to teach on Wednesday this morning, we are so excited about it. Pray for us! It was funny because we called the other Elder Equipe in our city and told them we found a family. Elder Barney said, "Ah! Call the Cherbourg Elders and tell them you found a family to teach!) haha, i guess that is the difference between a French mission and a South American mission. Every family you find to teach here is a big deal! But I think there's lot of families that are ready, we just need to find them.
Another cool thing, My first night I was telling Soeur Cope about Marie Sylvie for some reason and suddenly she was like, "oh that's the story Pres. Poznanski shared in zone conference!" She then went on to tell me that when President had shared the Mezerai story he had read a letter Marie Sylvie had written him and she had said at one point that Elder Chard's daughter was coming to the Paris mission soon.) at that point Soeur Cope had the impression that she was going to be companions with that sister... and now we're companions!
Another awesome thing, I was at ward choir practice on Sunday and met one of the ward members. I told her my name and she asked me if I was related to someone who had gotten in a plane accident many years ago. I told her that was my grandpa! She told me that she was good friends with Grandma Connie and Grandpa Gary when they lived in the Versailles ward and that they had spent the evening with Grandma and Grandpa Gary the night before the accident. Soeur Liebard is her name and I know I have heard grandma talk about her before! Soeur Liebard said to tell grandma hi! Her husband is the bishop of my ward!
As far as the French goes, I am absolutely so incredibly grateful for the help of Heavenly Father because I know that I am not learning the language alone. I'm able to remember concepts so much better and vocabulary so much better than I ever normally would be able to. A lot of the French people in the ward have said that my French is really good for a new missionary. I have such a long way to go but I think it's a miracle I'm able to speak as much as I can right now. I am not going to lie, a lot of the time I smile when they smile, straight face when they have a straight face and laugh when they laugh. Comprehension... depends who I'm talking too. Dad, I now know what a Norman accent is... haha I have a hard time understanding people who have the super thick accents!
We have a progressing investigator who the sisters have been teaching for a few months now. Her name is Vivian and I met her for the first time a couple of days ago. She is the sweetest woman ever. She has some social anxiety and so the sisters haven't been able to get her to come to church. However, she reads BOM, she's so prepared and so perfect in so many ways. Anyways, that was my first lesson with an investigator. And.... I never thought I would do this. But I tried to commit her to baptism on my first lesson with her! And then I went on this big thing about how important baptism is, why it's such a necessary step etc. Bottom line, she needs to come to church first. I really think she will get baptized though.
Today for P Day we had Thanksgiving! We had an awesome thanksgiving dinner (we have senior missionaries in our area. I'm telling you, we have the best of all worlds!) pumpkin pie, turkey, etc. Then we had a turkey bowl. WE played touch football with the Elders serving in Le Havre (shout out to dad!) and Cherbourg and Caen. It was really fun.
What I'm learning: I feel like we could be using our time so much more effectively in so many ways. You can be missionaries who are technically outside of the apartment all of the hours you're supposed to be, you can come back at the end of the night and be tired. But, that doesn't mean that you have been effective that day. We could be contacting so much more, and I just need to be better about it. I'm scared, I'm nervous and I just don't know how to do it. But that is something I'm making a goal to overcome. Because it's so important to open your mouth about the gospel at all times and in all places we are.
Also, it's really cool. I was brushing my teeth the other day and just had a huge rush of ideas come into my mind. We teach an English class and the first one, I was thinking, "this could be so much more effective." So, I thought. Why don't we teach them English the same way I learned French? So, we're taking one of the MTC learning French books and converting the same format to learning English. I also thought, why don't we have Vivian (the investigator we're trying to get to church) ask her to prepare 15 to 20 minute French lessons for Soeur Cope and I every time we come and visit. Right now in her life she feels like no one needs her, like she doesn't have a lot of people who need her. Well, I need her to teach me French desperately so it could help her feel needed and help us at the same time! We also are teaching a less active woman right now who just has a lot going on and I thought of some things we could teach her.
It's just amazing because there are so many thoughts and ideas rushing into my mind and so many ways to be effective missionaries and I know that the inspiration is not just my own ideas. It is so amazing! Anyways though, tonight we had to go visiting teaching with this woman in the ward and it took a lot of time and I just felt like it was a complete waste of time because we didn't really do anything, we were just there. There's just a lot of things that make me frustrated (a lot with myself) that I want to change to use our time more effectively in our proselyting. and I'm excited for the challenge and I’m so excited to change and to become better and I just love it here! And I'm so excited for Christmastime! They have these hanging lights over the streets in Caen for Christmas and it is so festive and beautiful. It truly is a beautiful area.
One last funny thing, Soeur Cope took me the other day to get a "religieuse". It's like a really good French eclair. Religieuse basically means a nun in french and that's what a lot of people think we are! So it's tradition for the Soeurs in Caen to get. It was fun. I love Soeur Cope.
Oh, last thing. We're also teaching a recent convert. She was baptized by Elizabeth Smart! Isn't that cool? She's a single mom and works all the time, I think 2 jobs and so can never come to church. She has one day off on January 1st and is just counting down the days because that means she can come to church. It's so crazy to me how much I’ve taken for granted the gospel, the ability to go to church every Sunday, etc. When there are people who desperately want to be able to go and can't. We're praying she can find another job.
Okay, this is a super long email. Sorry! There's still so much more I could say... but I will stop there.
Oh last funny story: we went and visited this old woman a few days ago. She's like 94. Walk inside, horrible smell of dog pee. The dog's name is Tommy and he has huge bald patches. So gross! I tried talking to her and she kept not understanding me. At first I thought it was my accent, or just my bad French but I think it's just she can't hear well at all. It was a funny experience.
Thank you for all your prayers!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Hi friends and family!
I am leaving in 6 days! That's so crazy! We got our travel plans a few days ago. Our flight is at 5:00 PM direct from SLC to Paris on the 21st (Monday). There's 20 of us that are going to Paris that day that will all be on that same flight. Soeur Johnson and I are the only sisters though. I'm so excited! And yes, I get to call when i am at the airport! i think it will be sometime between 2:30 and 4:00. (we leave the MTC at 1:30 and can call when we get to the airport, through security and everything.) And I will call dad too on his cell phone (that's a long business trip dad!) and I will call on Mom's cell phone.
Heather asked what my favorite part about the MTC is right now. I would have to say it's on Sunday when they have the conversion story spotlight for the sister missionaries. They have a sister missionary who is a recent convert share their conversion story and they are always incredible stories. This last girl was from Albania and she met with the sister missionaries and had the discussions about 8 years ago and then had forgotten about them. 8 years went by and she was in a school class and people in the class started talking about how proud they were they could prove there was no God. It continued and she got so passionate about it she stood up and started drawing diagrams on the board about how she knew God lives. She started asking them questions about the purpose of life and God, etc. and they went quiet and couldn't answer. She went home that night and prayed to God and thanked Him for all the blessings He had given her and asked Him how she could help Him. (This is before she was a member). She remembered the missionaries she had spoken with 8 years earlier for the first time and began being taught by the missionaries again and was recently baptized. She's going to Germany on her mission now. She came to our dorm room door a few nights ago looking for some sisters and knocked on the wrong door so I was able to talk to her for a few minutes. She is amazing. She speaks 6 languages and said, "I feel like God had blessed me to learn so many languages because He wants me to share my testimony with everyone." Anyways, that's my favorite part of the MTC.
My other favorite part is the apostle devotionals at the MTC. Not only when they actually come speak (Elder Scott came which was so cool) but we can also watch the rebroadcasts here and they are only available to missionaries in the MTC. Soeur Johnson and I watched one of Elder Holland's on Sunday night and i loved it. I love him because he gets so passionate and down to business with every single thing he talks about and he just lays it out how it is and basically the message I got from his last message was: suck it up and do it well.
He talked about a poem that I really liked: (i will probably butcher it but that's okay it goes something like this):
"Come to the edge."
"No, I'll fall."
"Come to the edge."
"No. I'll fall."
"Come to the edge."
So he went over the edge. And he pushed him off the edge. And he flew.
Elder Holland said, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." And how our missions are a chance to come to the edge in everything we do so that we can truly be instruments in God's hands. I love thinking of it that way.
Devotional on Sunday was one of the MTC presidency again. Last time he gave a talk on the law of tithing. People were joking he would give the same talk again. And then.... he did. He got up and said, "you know, I never ever repeat a talk twice. But I have felt so inspired that I need to give another talk on teaching the law of tithing to your investigators." AT first I thought that he had literally said just about everything there was to say on tithing. Then he gave his talk and it was incredible. It was incredible because this time he was much more focused on the eternal perspective of the blessings we receive from tithing. It's cool to think that every other baptismal commitment question is based on principles you already have needed to be living. This one is the one principle investigators will not have yet lived. It is something they will be doing their entire lives and something they must do in order to be sealed as families in the temple. He showed a clip from the District (missionary discussions that they film in the field and show as part of training in the mTC) of two sisters teaching a family the principle of the law of tithing and committing them to live it. Then it showed that same family a year later (January of 2011) going to the temple to be sealed as a family. it was so cool to really think of tithing in that eternal perspective like that.
Along with temples, today is my last temple day! I am going right after I send this email for the very last time until I get home. I realize more and more every week I go what an incredible blessing the temple is to have in our lives. It's THE most important blessing we have in our lives and what a blessing it is to have so many so close to us. So here is my challenge to Dad, Mom, Danielle and Hez (as much as possible): try to go to the temple every week for the next year and a half, and I promise that it will bless your lives in so many ways if you do that. I know that by going to the temple we are given strength to do things we can't do on our own and it's the best thing ever.
I love you and will talk to you on Monday!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Hi family and friends!
I can't believe we only have 13 days left! Well, at the same time, I feel like I have been here forever and ever and ever. I'm really excited to go! I have loved it here but sometimes there are moments where Soeur Johnson and I just look out the window at the outside world and say, "wow, I kind of feel like a bird in a cage right now." i'm excited to be out in the world again. Last night we were walking back into another block of class after dinner and there was a random elder behind us who started singing, "I can't take this any longer, thought that I was stronger...I hate this part right here." Dani and Hez have probably figured out that was a tribute to the PUssycat Dolls "I hate this part right here." I think he was having a moment of not wanting to go study at the same desk for another three hour block moment. I thought it was hilarious. Anyways, it really is amazing here though, promise.
Mom asked what a typical day is like. Well, we have a different schedule every day of the week but typically:
6:30-7:00 get up and get ready
7:00-8:00 personal study
9:00-12:00 class (mixture of PMG studying with our teachers, reading BOM in french, teaching our investigators, preparing our lessons to teach with our investigators)
Then we have gym for an hour, more personal study, about an hour and a half of personal language study, TALL (computer program for language study) and another three hour block of class with our other teacher. We also have workshops focused on "Our purpose" from PMG on Saturday nights and then devotionals on Tuesdays and Sunday nights. Then we have 9:30-10:30 to get ready for bed, write in journals, etc. I think the hardest part of the MTC for a lot of people is just the routine of sitting in the same desk in the same room for about 10 hours (probably less than that) every day and making sure that you're directing your personal study time to make the best use of it all the time. That's at least what I find the most challenging.
Mom also asked about our instructors: AMAZING. We have Frere Larimer who is a RM from Quebec and then Soeur Welch who is an RM from Brussels. I especially love Soeur Welch. She started working at the MTC right when she got home and ended up marrying one of the other french teachers here at the MTC so they both work here now. They just did an internship both of them in Paris last summer. Anyways, she's awesome because she is always down to business as far as just being super effective, giving us tons of opportunities to teach and discuss, etc. and tells us the coolest mission stories that she had. She is always giving us feedback and ways we can improve. She's at BYU right now and is almost done with school, she's going to be a high school french teacher. Tomorrow for class she's having us really focus on how to ask good questions (that's something that would be super good to work on in mission prep. mom and dad :) ). she said the difference between helping an investigator come to Christ and not connecting with them most of the times is being able to ask good questinos and to listen. So, you go to a scripture and then she said, "I'm going to make you go to heaven, ask an inspired question. Then listen." That's something we've been trying to work on a lot lately. Asking good questions is a lot more difficult than I thought and can have a huge impact I'm realizing more and more if you carefully select them. Frere Larimer is awesome too, he's engaged to a Vietnamese girl right now and is always super nice and encouraging. We have great teachers.
The other day Soeru Welch and Soeur Mortenson (another of the teachers) came into our class to role play a Plan of Salvation lesson for us. They did it in 15 minutes and did it so well. Everything was so concise, their french was amazing, and they shared two scriptures, and answered the investigators questions and everything. Right after that demonstration S. Johnson and I had to go and teach our lesson. We started walking to go teach and S. Johnson started crying. She just got super overwhelmed with everything we're supposed to do and know and teach to our investigators and french and knowing scriptures etc. And because we're leaving so soon to go be missionaries. There's definitely moments when you can feel overwhelmed. That's for sure. S. Redford had a similar experience right before she left for Madagascar and was trying to teach about prophets in french and just started crying and felt like she didn't know any french whatsoever at that moment. I have definitely had moments like that too (I haven't cried *yet*) but it's incredible to think that we can be effective missionaries and teach people not lessons that are memorized in another language. I honestly think it's incredible and have been thinking of the scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7 that God won't ask us to do anything that we can't do.
Also, our branch presidency is absolutely incredible. Dad, I'm sure you know Brother Mangum is in our presidency. Because every time I talk to him I tell him to tell you hi. But tell him that we all think he is amazing. He provides so much insight and encouragement to all of us all the time. I just had an interview with him on Sunday. He talked about how important it is to not get trunky and that if I will really work hard that french will grow exponentially and also in the gospel over the next two weeks. That is a struggle sometimes to stay really motivated and to really dig in and continue to work hard after 8 weeks of studying in the same place. Our coordinating sister made a really good point the other day. She said that this last week has been hard for her because the longer we are here in the MTC the more we start focusing on ourselves, on the things we can't do, on our weaknesses, on what we miss, on ourselves in general. Once we're in the mission field it really becomes all about the people you are there to serve and you are able to not just focus on yourself anymore. I love that thought and think that's really true as well.
We got 10 new sisters in our zone last week. Soeur Waldron greeted the first three on Tuesday and they all spoke fluent french. Soeur Waldron went up and said, "Est-ce que vous avez besoin de quelque chose?" (do you need anything?) and then she asked them where they were from in french and they went off on this huge thing and she didn't even have any idea what they said. She came back into our room and was telling us how embarassed she felt (she went into fetal position) haha but she was laughing about it. I thought it was so hilarious. and I'm just imaginging myself getting to france and the first french person talking to me and I just say, "je ne comprends pas" over and over and over. and then go into fetal position. haha jk or at least I hope I'm jk. :)
Oh anyways, so those new sisters got put in another zone and I think they're leaving early. But 7 other American sisters came in. I was talking to them the other day and said, "how are the elders? do they focus?" they said, "Yes, sometimes they get sidetracked talking about scriptures that aren't relevant though." I started laughing and said, "well, at least they're sidetracked on scriptures. Our elders are wild." then, 5 minutes later e. Burgess (my district) went running down the hall as batman (crafted out of garbage bags) and making weird noises. Typical day in our district. The new sister poked her head out the door and said, "oh, I see what you're saying now."
Elder Zwick came and spoke at Devotional on Sunday! He did an awesome job. On prayer and how when we stop praying we are putting our confidence in ourselves. Also, we just got back from the temple (our second to last time). I LOVE it more and more every time I go and realize what a huge blessing it is to have one so close! Go as often as you can!
Last thing, OLy boys are amazing. I.E. Elder Spencer Simpson. They work hard and they have fun. He was telling me all this stuff they're doing in their danish district. Oh my gosh, they're amazing, and his danish is sounding great and he is just such a good example to me of how to study and they have so much fun too. Danielle really had the best friends last year! (send him cookies! :) ) I told him you were going to. :) Love you all so so so much! and hope everything is going well!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Hello family and friends!
I wonder if it's raining in SLC right now? It's raining here and I love it! Soeur johnson and I went jogging this morning in the MTC outside in the rain and I loved it. It was a big deal because Soeur Johnson doesn't usually like running and so it was fun and then at breakfast she ate mini wheats for like the first time since being at the MTC! Do you know what's crazy though? We have been here for one transfer already! We are on week seven in the MTC now. I had the most terrifying dream one of the first weeks that I had finished my mission and was ready to come home on a plane and I still didn't really speak french and I had no one to say goodbye too and I had completely wasted the last 18 months. It was horrible. So, hoping that's not going to happen.
Yesterday Soeur Redford left for Madagascar! We spent most of the day helping her get ready to go and everything. It's funny because when Soeur Soares (the brazilian) left all of her bags were over 70 pounds and so she had to stuff things in her carry-on bag (which ended up being like 40 pounds or something.) Soeur Redford's was much less stressful. The island she will be serving on (la reunion) apparently is like the Hawaii of France so she's excited.
This week we get 28 new french-speaking missionaries! 10 of them are sisters.... but none of them are going to Paris. Lyon and Montreal. But still really exciting! It's weird that we are now the old districts and are leaving in three weeks. I've decided that the MTC is like a cocoon (I think mom or dad said that before? and it's so true). Everyone's encouraging, you have devotionals two times a week, you are in warm buildings just learning and feeling the spirit all the time. And then you actually get to your mission and I have no idea what that will be like! But I'm excited.
We had one sister in our zone go home this week. There have been four missionaries who have gone home early in our zone since I have been at the MTC. And actually three from one district (a district has 12 people in it.) It's amazing how well they have handled it. They're always so positive about everything.
I did see Eileen Tate at the temple for a minute last week! I also saw Aunt Sylvia in the temple last week. We do go to the temple every P Day. And best thing ever, I was walking during gym time last week around the field and suddenly someone came up behind me and hugged me and I turned around and it was Brindy! (My roommmate from winter semester!) It seriously made my whole day, it was so fun to see her! Whenever I leave MTC premises I'm always looking everywhere to see if there's anyone I know around.
Also, interesting fun fact. Did you know mom and dad that in the MTC now we don't memorize D&C 4 we memorize "our purpose" in preach my gospel?
One of the best parts of the week was Sunday. We always have relief society with all the sister missionaries. This week Sister Dalton came to speak! She talked about an experience she had when she was running with her husband and she got to a hill and was giving it everything she had and then her husband still passed her on the hill. She called up to him and told her she was turning around and would meet him back at the car. He jogged back down to her and said, "don't you know that you should never stop in the middle of a hill?" she related that to serving a mission and to never stop when you're in the middle of the hill because it's so worth it at the top. She also encouraged all of us to start keeping a scripture card with our favorite scriptures and she shared with us the scriptures that are her favorites. It was such a good meeting!
Your Boston trip sounds so amazing! Ah, and perfect time of year to go! Crazy time coming home it sounds like, and dad running into a car haha that's great. Thank you so much for sending so many letters/packages! It makes me feel so loved!
I think that's all this week! Not too much to report on this week. But I do absolutely love it here! I was laughing because I did have a couple times this week that I just went into the bathroom and prayed that my companion and I could get along and it worked! We're doing great, and we're both learning and I'm loving being her companion. I'm learning how important it is to communicate all the time. It relieves so much tension. Three weeks and we're done here! I go through phases of being so ready to go and excited and other points where I feel scared out of my mind. But I think no matter how much you learn in the MTC to some extent you will feel nervous. But you learn the most through experience and just jumping into it.
Love you all and have a fabulous week! Thank you for all of your prayers! I miss and love you all!
Soeur Chard (lou!!)